The Duncan Banner

February 24, 2013

A weekend in a class all by itself

Evan Grice
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Whether you were a neutral or a true sports fan, it would be hard to argue with the amount of class that was shown over the weekend in Stephens County.

From the amazing moments at the Area Tournament in Stroud with the Velma-Alma boys and girls basketball teams, to the excitement at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Arena and the state wrestling tournament, there was plenty to be proud about as far as class.

First and foremost, it should be noted that the Velma-Alma Lady Comets have everything to be proud of despite falling short of the state tournament.

Knocking off three ranked teams in one postseason is quite the accomplishment, but perhaps the best moment was Friday afternoon against No. 12 Stonewall.

With her team down by one point with 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter, senior Teddi Southerland threw up what looked to be an impossible three-point shot from the right side down by the baseline.

As the ball left her hands, fans inside the Route 66 Coliseum all assumed the ball was well off course.

Until one split second when the ball shifted to the inside, went off the glass and swished the net, leaving fans to wonder if they could believe what they had just seen.

Following the Lady Comets victory, head coach Jerry Garrett did what any proud coach of his team would do, he broke down and became emotional.

During his post game interview, Garrett emphasized how proud he was of his team, and never forgot to mention that this season is for a special teammate who will never be forgotten, Braylee Henry.

Even though the Lady Comets fell to Pond Creek-Hunter 55-51 in the Area Finals, Coach Garrett and his squad should be commended for the class and humility they have shown this entire season, in the face of the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

Ironically enough, just hours following the emotional victory, those same Lady Comets were back inside the Route 66 Coliseum cheering on their male counterparts, in what turned out to be an absolute showcase of pure basketball.

If only fans could have seen the hustle and heart shown by V-A players such as L. L. Humphreys, who had a coast-to-coast run down the floor that had to be seen to be believed in the first half.

Conner Sullivan was another Comet who showed tremendous heart, blocking a shot out of bounds just mere moments after being knocked down at the opposite end of the court.

Finally, there was a young freshman who showed the heart of a veteran in the form of Jake McGuire, who stepped up his game on the biggest stage to help his reach the state tournament.

But, like a true class act following his teams victory over previously undefeated Glencoe, head coach Kenny Bare made sure that everyone knew this was about the team, and a group of excellent performances.

Also, coach Bare thanked the huge contingent of Velma fans who made the 2 1/2 hour drive just to see his quality group of kids play in one of their biggest games of the season.  

V-A is one of the eight teams who will be fighting for a state title beginning on Thursday, as the Comets will seek redemption for a state quarterfinals exit last season.

And last but certainly not least, the final class act of the weekend came with a senior wrestler from Comanche by the name of JonWayne Townsend.

Townsend etched his name into the history books Saturday night with a convincing 16-5 victory in the finals, to win his third state championship as a Comanche wrestler, the first to ever do so.

Moments after his match, the elated senior had more than enough energy to jump the barriers inside the State Fairgrounds Arena to give his mom a hug. Townsend later described that moment as simply “Emotional.”

If there was one wrestler everyone was happy to see win, it was Townsend, who has simply been the best not only at wrestling but at mentoring as well during his high school career.

Comanche coach Jason Miller later said about Townsend “I feel like we’re not only losing a wrestler, but a coach as well.”

It says a lot about someone who not only has an abundance of talent, but is more than willing to share it with those around them so they can reach their goals.

Townsend will undoubtedly wrestle at the college level, in which I’m sure he’ll be just as good if not better than he was in high school.

All of these moments should remind us that class isn’t just about how you conduct yourself during the game, but how you portray yourself to those around you.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say Thank You to every single athlete who put their talents to use this weekend, for showing us what high school athletics are supposed to be about.